Posts Tagged ‘United States

27
May
09

Afghanistan our New Challenge

600afghanistan_woman

icon_digg The war in Afghanistan has been in progress for almost eight years, two years shy of the former Soviet Union’s losing duration when they invaded the country in 1979.  Today, we are finding ourselves in the same predicament as they were some twenty years later, with the only difference being the stakes are much higher with the spreading battlegrounds reaching into Pakistan with its nuclear weapons potentially falling under the Taliban’s control.

Should we be there, yes – but unfortunately we have made the same mistakes the Soviet Union committed in assuring their failure:

  • The difficult terrain features Afghanistan offers to foreign armies
  • The ability of small numbered Afghan troops to quickly mobilize, strike swiftly and rapidly disperse into the general populous
  • Modern military technology is mostly limited to air support supremacy only
  • The appearance of armed foreigners in Afghanistan has always been met with arms in the hands of the Afghans.

This last point is perhaps the most important reason of why the war is dragging on and why the U.S. has not been overwhelmingly successful in conflicts such as this before, such as: Vietnam, Lebanon, Somalia and Iraq.

The aforementioned conflicts, like Afghanistan presents itself, are fundamentally based upon religious differences among the populous and invading foreign powers, where political dissimilarities were secondary and ideological dissimilarities were a distant third.

We have all heard the saying “winning the hearts and minds”, which in my opinion is preached but never practiced; we as Americans are told this usually after our military leaders realize the conflict is going to be long and drawn out.

Our picture of the real social and economic situation in the country was insufficiently clear.

History should have been our textbook to use in the Afghan War!

As mentioned when the Soviet Union invaded the country in 1979 they in essence installed there own president, Babrak Karmal, as we did with Hamid Karzai with both presidents’ first steps rendering hopes for the problems facing their country being resolved with foreign aid and support. However, nothing new emerged and their policies that could have changed for a better attitude of a significantly increased portion of the Afghan population towards their new regime never did reach or as in today’s situation reach maturity.

Moreover, the intensity of the internal Afghan conflict continued to grow, and the military presence was associated with forceful imposition of customs alien to the national characteristics and feelings of the Afghan people.

Both the Soviet’s and our current approach did not take into account the country’s multiple forms of economic life and other characteristics, such as tribal and religious customs.  One has to admit that we as the Soviets essentially put our bets on the military solution while developing a counterrevolution with force.

As always we were acting out of our best intentions, trying to transplant the approach to which we are accustomed onto Afghan soil, and encouraging the Afghans to copy our ways. All of this did not help our cause; it bred feelings of dependency on the part of the Afghan leaders in regard to both the sphere of military operations and economic solutions.

The war in Afghanistan is continuing and our troops are engaged in extensive combat actions. Finding any way out is becoming more and more difficult as time passes.

President Obama is fully committed, as we should be, in winning this war; the reasons are straightforward and simple to understand:

  • To stop the spread of terrorism in the Eastern hemisphere and establish a permanent military base within Central Asia from which we can protect both our Middle East and Asian allies and our own vast interests in the region.
  • Insure nuclear arms in Pakistan are secure from radicals and groups obsessed in conveying their politically motivated messages of ideological concepts
  • Halting the flow of narcotics for worldwide consumption
  • Eliminating wide scale corruption in aspects of Afghan society

We must face reality in Pakistan; we have poured billions of dollars into the country with, in my opinion very little to show for, other than a much un-needed amount of political bickering and the simple fact the Taliban is gaining more control of the country than ever before.

Here again is our overall lack of understanding the people within Pakistan and as in Afghanistan talking about “winning the hearts and minds” but doing so in such a way to render us as invaders rather than saviors.

Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos all turned around their agricultural communities from harvesting drug producing crops to alternative methods of land usage.  This was not an easy task, but accomplished through government sponsored programs and education of the farmers.

Additionally stringent law enforcement was required, not necessarily on the farmers themselves, but more so on the distribution or middlemen and drug lords.

Today, production and the exporting of drugs within these aforementioned countries has been drastically reduced.

Corruption has driven the country since its inception and something that cannot be eliminated by a proclamation or two by the country’s top officials.  The elimination of corruption cannot be only approached from a typical top-down or grassroots approach of bottom-up; instead it must facilitate both of the following equally and in conjunction with one another:

  • The populous requires an education as to the harmful effects caused by a corrupt government and the benefits received from quick law enforcement.
  • Strong and courageous leadership who understands the needs of the populous and willing to enforce or institute corruption laws to protect not only the people but his own position in the government.

An excellent article, authored by Chak Sopheap for UPI Asia, entitled “Cambodia needs anti-corruption culture” details the current corruption problems taking place in Cambodia and the harm it is causing on the Cambodian people.  Well worth a read!

What’s my Point:

Lets stop by throwing needlessly money, bullets and bombs at the Afghans and Pakistanis by starting first of all; educating ourselves with the understanding of their culture, traditions and language or give up the tired old line of “winning the hearts and minds” of the people and simply conquer them, which is less time consuming and possibly less costly.

However we as Americans would be bound to rebuild their country in our own image, such as we did after World War II with the countries of Japan and Germany, along with Korea, after the Korean conflict.

I wonder what the international community’s attitude would be towards us, if we conquered Afghanistan and Pakistan?  Also, I wonder about the overall cost of rebuilding these two countries?

Reference Documents and Newswire Updates:

Related Newswire Stories:

Remarks by the President on National Security (pdf)

Press Briefing by Sect. of State Hillary Clinton on Humanitarian Aid to Pakistan (pdf)

Press Briefing by National Security Advisor General James Jones on the President’s meetings with President Karzai of Afghanistan and President Zardari of Pakistan (pdf)

Accompanying Video:

From Afghanistan

Photos by Scott Carrier from Afghanistan. Taken for his Harper’s Magazine article:
http://hearingvoices.com/webwork/carr…

Music by Eva Cassidy from her Live at Blues Alley
http://www.evacassidy.org/

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16
May
09

Looking Ahead to 2010 and the Senate

vote

I dislike copying an entire page and presenting it in a blog, but there’s no other way to really to get an excellently written assessment of what’s in store for voters in the up and coming 2010 congressional seats.

This page is presented by Council for a Livable World at their link here:

An Early Look at the 2010 Senate Elections

18 Democratic seats up for election

Evan Bayh (IN)
Michael Bennet (CO)
Barbara Boxer (CA)
Roland Burris (IL)
Christopher Dodd (CT)
Byron Dorgan (ND)
Russell Feingold (WI)
Kirsten Gillibrand (NY)
Daniel Inouye (HI)
Ted Kaufman (DE) (retiring)
Patrick Leahy (VT)
Blanche Lincoln (AR)
Barbara Mikulski (MD)
Patty Murray (WA)
Harry Reid (NV)
Charles Schumer (NY)
Arlen Specter (PA)
Ron Wyden (OR)

18 Republican seats up for election

Robert Bennett (UT)
Christopher Bond (MO) (retiring)
Sam Brownback (KS) (retiring)
Jim Bunning (KY)
Richard Burr (NC)
Tom Coburn (OK)
Mike Crapo (ID)
Jim DeMint (SC)
Chuck Grassley (IA)
Judd Gregg (NH) (retiring)
Johnny Isakson (GA)
Mel Martinez (FL) (retiring)
John McCain (AZ)
Lisa Murkowski (AK)
Richard Shelby (AL)
John Thune (SD)
David Vitter (LA)
George Voinovich (OH) (retiring)

The landscape

1. Number of seats up in 2010: After the unexpected Specter party switch, Democrats and Republicans now both have to defend 18 seats, but the Pennsylvania contest now swings toward the Democrats.

2. Retirements: At this point, five GOP Senators have announced their retirement at the end of this term, compared to only one Democrat. Open seats are frequently highly competitive.

3. Newly-appointed Senators: There are four Democratic seats previously held by Obama, Biden, Clinton and Salazar. Their appointed successors will be much more vulnerable in two years.

4. Candidate recruitment: Both parties are searching for strong candidates to run as challengers or for open seats, but have suffered some disappointments as favored candidates declined to enter the races.

5. External factors: The decisive factor may be the popularity of President Barack Obama in November 2010 and his success in solving U.S. domestic and foreign problems, especially the recession. Many mid-term elections become referenda on the incumbent President’s party.

The early battleground states

California: The nation’s largest state becomes a battleground only if Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) decides to challenge Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) . She will face spirited competition even if he does not run, perhaps from ex-Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina (R), but should prevail.

Colorado: Political newcomer Michael Bennet (D) was appointed to replace Sen. Ken Salazar (D), who resigned to become the new Secretary of Interior. Well-regarded for his performance as superintendent of Denver public schools, Bennet is little known to voters across the state. Republicans are sure to mount a stiff challenge. Polls point to a close contest in the general election. Bennet raised $1.4 million in the first three months of 2009.

Connecticut: The chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Sen. Chris Dodd (D) is in trouble. His sagging poll numbers are due to the banking crisis (he is chairman of the Senate Banking Committee) and to what the media describes as sweetheart real estate deals. While the state is strongly Democratic, polls show that Dodd will face a strong challenge from former Rep. Rob Simmons (R) or former state senator Sam Caligirui (R).

Delaware: Sen. Ted Kaufman (D) is Sen. Joseph Biden’s former chief of staff. He has announced that he will hold the seat for only two years, keeping it warm for Attorney General Beau Biden (D), one of Biden’s sons who is expected to announce his candidacy after he returns from his military deployment in Iraq. Republicans are hoping to nominate popular U.S. Rep. Mike Castle, a veteran legislator. A March 2009 poll showed Castle leading Beau Biden.

Florida: This Senate contest for the seat of retiring Sen. Mel Martinez (R). took a dramatic turn when popular Governor Charles Crist (R) entered the contest in May. He will be challenged from the right by former Florida state Speaker Marco Rubio (R) and on the left by U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek (D). While Crist has his detractors, he is likely to win the seat easily.

Illinois : Former Governor Rod Blagojevich’s (D) appointment of Sen. Roland Burris (D) embarrassed state and national Democrats. It is not clear whether 71-year old Burris will run in 2010. State treasurer Alexi Giannoulias (D) is running and has raised over $1.1 million. The GOP is recruiting suburban Chicago U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk (R).

Kansas: Sen. Sam Brownback (R) , currently serving his second term in the U.S. Senate, has kept his promise to retire after two terms. Two GOP House members, Reps. Todd Tiahrt and Jerry Moran have indicated they will run in the primary. Now that Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) has entered the Obama cabinet, the Republican primary winner is almost surely the general election winner. Democrats have not won a Kansas Senate seat since 1932.

Kentucky: Two-term incumbent Sen. Jim Bunning (R) won by only 23,000 votes in 2004, a strong Republican year, and is considered highly vulnerable. Indeed, some Republicans are urging Bunning to retire rather than risk defeat. He has responded by attacking Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConell (R), also of Kentucky. Bunning had only $376,000 in the bank at the end of March. Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo (D), who ran in 2004, has declared he will run, as has state Attorney General Jack Conway (D) .

Louisiana: Democrats have been targeting Sen. David Vitter (R) (Mr. Family Values) since his name was found in the D.C. Madam’s list of prostitutes’ customers. Vitter may receive a primary challenge and will certainly face a strong opponent in the general election.

Missouri: Sen. Kit Bond (R) survived a series of credible Democratic challengers over the years. Now he has announced his retirement. Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D), the daughter of a recent governor and senator and sister of a congressman, is the early Democratic frontrunner. Early polls show her with a narrow lead over potential Republican opponents, U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt and ex-state treasurer Sarah Steelman. This is a toss-up race.

Nevada: In 2004, Republicans upset Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle and hope to repeat that victory by defeating Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid (D) in 2010. Potential serious challengers are former U.S. Representative Jon Porter (R) and Lieutenant Governor Brian Krolicki (R). The GOP will almost surely mount a serious challenge to Reid. While Reid triumphed handily in 2004, he won by only 428 votes six years earlier. At the end of March, Reid had $5 million in the bank. The National Republican Senatorial Committee began running attack ads against Reid in January 2009. Reid may be vulnerable for re-election depending on the state of the national economy.

New Hampshire: This state has been voting increasingly Democratic as evidenced by the defeat of both Republican House members in 2006 and Sen. John Sununu in 2008. Democrats are optimistic about winning another Senate seat in 2010, particularly now that Senator Judd Gregg (R) has announced his retirement. Rep. Paul Hodes (D) has declared his candidacy. The other U.S. Representative from New Hampshire, Carol Shea-Porter (D), will not run.

New York: Gov. David Paterson’s selection of little-known U.S. Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) from upstate New York to replace former Senator and now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton could lead to stiff primary opposition. U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D), who objects to Gillibrand’s pro-gun position, may contest the party nomination. Republican U.S. Rep. Peter King may run. Gillibrand is an effective fundraiser and a formidable campaigner, but not well known across the Empire state. The state’s Democratic leanings make her the early favorite, and she raised $2.4 million in the first quarter of 2009.

North Carolina: North Carolina was carried by Barack Obama in 2008 and elected Sen. Kay Hagan (D) over incumbent Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R). Democrats have turned their sights on Sen. Richard Burr (R) . State Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) is considering a challenge. Polling shows Burr only slightly ahead of potential challengers.

North Dakota: Sen. Byron Dorgan (D) will breeze to easy re-election unless Gov. John Hoeven (R) gets into the contest.

Ohio: Ex-U.S. Rep. and ex-Office of Management and Budget director Rob Portman (R) declared his candidacy immediately after the announced retirement of Sen. George Voinovich (R). He may run opposed for the GOP nomination. Democrats face a primary between Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner and state Rep. Tyrone Yates. Both the primary and general election are wide open. Portman has over $3 million in his campaign treasury, well ahead of either Democratic candidate.

Pennsylvania: Incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter’s (R turned D) surprising party switch in April 2009 has totally shaken up this contest. Threatened with defeat at the hands of former Conservative Club for Growth president Pat Toomey (R), who almost defeated Specter in a 2004 primary, Specter has decided to run as a Democrat. The result is that Toomey is likely the GOP nominee and Specter the Democratic candidate, although the newly minted Democrat may still face primary opposition. However, Specter has $6.7 million campaign treasury.

Additional Reference Sources and Newswire Updates:

The Torturous 13

Making a List and Checking it Twice

Related Newswire Articles on 2010 Elections

08
May
09

What Makes Guantanamo Bay Special

guantanmo

icon_digg For the most part there’s very little agreement that I have with the Bush Administration; especially there authored and enacted policies regarding offshore retention prisons and numerous violations in respect to torture in regards to the Geneva Convention.

However, I do subscribe to the fact there are organizations and individuals with the devoted intent to destroy our beloved country at any means possible.

Furthermore, these aforementioned leaders of these organizations and their members must be found, brought to justice in a court of law and sentenced accordingly.

As for the trial proceedings, I’ll trust and place my faith in President Obama and Attorney General, Eric Holder’s decision(s) to choose the correct course of action, which at the time of this posting is being decided.

For the incarceration phase of punishment, it must be within the continental United States!  Meaning, in my own personal opinion “Guantanamo Bay, Camp Delta” must be closed.

I cannot comprehend that we do not have a facility secure enough to house these convicted terrorists.  Within our penal system, in the US, we confine the likes of serial killers, psychopaths, treasoners, drug lords and mafia bosses without one of these criminals ever escaping and endangering the public.

So to me, Guantanamo is just a blight on our country’s reputation of justice and fairness.

There are others who feel the same as I; and yet others within the GOP especially who are using their same old scare tactics that has got us into our current mess with the international community.  An article posted on the Huffington Post, entitled: “On Guantanamo, The GOP Attacks Hard Working Americans” and authored by Adam Blickstein has the following to say (excerpt):

After failing for 8 years to actually keep the world safe from terrorism, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and especially Dick Cheney, are embarking on a renewed push to rehabilitate their failed reputations and political prospects.

In going on the offensive on Guantanamo and torture, though, they not only expose themselves to the American people who see through these transparent attacks, but also to the reality that America has successfully held dangerous terrorists within our own criminal justice system for decades now, some of whom executed attacks on American soil.

They are: Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombings, who was incarcerated for a time in the nation’s largest city, New York, and now resides in it’s most secure prison, the Supermax facility in Florence, CO where according to a former warden he has never left his cell; also at Supermax, Zacharias Moussaoui, convicted of conspiring to kill Americans for his role in the 9/11 attacks; the 6 perpetrators of the East African embassy bombings are also there, as is the shoe bomber Richard Reid.

All these dangerous men have been kept in secure facilities for years now with none of these terrorists being released into our “backyards” as the GOP would like us to think. So how would the transfer of Guantanamo detainees be any different?

Within an additional article, again on the Huffington Post website, and article entitled: “GOP Promotes ‘Keep Terrorists Out Of America Act’ To Prevent Gitmo Closure”, authored by Jason Linkins, which basically states the same as my beliefs and those of Adam Blickstein. Here is an excerpt from Jason’s posting:

The new and exciting idea from your House GOP is a bill called the Keep Terrorists Out Of America Act, which is SUBLIME. At long last, someone had the guts to stand up and express the visionary idea that terrorists should be kept out of America. This will finally keep terrorists out of America, unless they somehow start dealing in subterfuge, or something.

Actually, the bill is merely a backhanded attempt to prevent the closure of Guantanamo Bay, by turning the matter into an internecine war between state governments over who shall house the prisoners presently in detention at the GITMO facility. Greg Sargent summarizes thusly:

The bill attempts to place restrictions on transfers of Guantanamo Bay detainees to the United States, and has two primary features:

It prohibits the Obama administration from transferring any Guandetainee to any state without approval from that state’s legislature and governor

Before transferring any detainee to any state, it requires the administration to notify Congress of the name of the detainee, and to stipulate to Congress that the release would not hamper continued prosecution of the detainee and wouldn’t negatively impact the state’s population.

During World War II we had the “Japanese Inurnment Camps”, which after forty years we apologized to those loyal Japanese-Americans who suffered are mistakes in political policy.

I’m not comparing the individuals in the Inurnment Camps to those individuals housed at Guantanamo Bay, instead I am comparing the concept of “specialized confinement centers” during war and holding people in legal limbo outside of our justice system in camps and under conditions, which prevents the American public, news media and international organizations access to it’s inhabits.

Complementing my posting, for reference, are the following pdf documents and YouTube Video:

JTF-GTMO Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for Camp Delta

International Committee of the Red Cross (Guantanamo Bay Report)

The Complete List of Congressional Leaders Briefed on Torture (pdf)

Related Newswire Articles regarding Guantanamo Bay

GOP’s Anti-Guantanamo Scare Campaign Parodied

07
May
09

Time for Another Review of the Patriot Act

costoffreedom2

icon_digg1 As of late the CIA and other governmental Intel agencies have taken the long overdue and justified theoretical “hits” from a various number of congressional leaders, the presidential executive branch, news media and most importantly the American public for these agencies institutionalizing torture as a means of “hopefully” obtaining timely and accurate information from captured terrorists.

As mentioned the News media and bloggers have jumped at the opportunity to post their stories and opinions, myself included:

With the last, aforementioned link regarding a short reference capsule of articles published over the past several months by nationally recognized news sources.Unfortunately there’s more work required to correct the past injustices of the Bush Administration than has been started by the Obama Administration; namely issues regarding the FISA (part of the Patriot Act) and the FBI’s list of 24,000 people on a terrorist watch list.  This list is in dire need of being revised and updated based on the number of outdated or sometimes irrelevant information, while missing people with genuine ties to terrorism who should have been on the list.

In a recent article, published in the New York Times, entitled: “Justice Dept. Finds Flaws in F.B.I. Terror List”, authored by authored by Eric Lichtblau; here are some of the excerpts of what I feel of importance (high lighted revisions by myself):By the beginning of 2009, the report said, this consolidated government watch list comprised about 400,000 people, recorded as 1.1 million names and aliases, an exponential growth from the days before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

But the new report, by the office of the Justice Department’s inspector general, provides the most authoritative statistical account to date of the problems connected with the list. An earlier report by the inspector general, released in March 2008, looked mainly at flaws in the system, without an emphasis on the number of people caught up in it.

The list has long been a target of public criticism, particularly after well-publicized errors in which politicians including Senator Edward M. Kennedy and Representative John Lewis showed up on it. People with names similar to actual terrorists have complained that it can take months to be removed from the list, and civil liberties advocates charge that antiwar protesters, Muslim activists and others have been listed for political reasons.

The inspector general looked at a sampling of 216 F.B.I. terrorism investigations and found that in 15 percent of them, a total of 35 subjects were not referred to the list even though they should have been.

In one case, for instance, a Special Forces soldier was investigated and ultimately convicted of stealing some 16,500 rounds of ammunition, C-4 explosives and other material from Afghanistan and shipping them to the United States in what investigators suspected might be the makings of a domestic terrorist plot. Yet the suspect was not placed on the watch list until nearly five months after the investigation opened.

Coinciding with this Times story is a YouTube video showing just how bad things can happen for a family who falls under FBI suspicion implementing the provisions provided within The Patriot Act:

USA using Patriot Act against its own citizens

Sixteen-year-old Ashton Lundeby’s bedroom in his mother’s Granville County home is nothing, if not patriotic. Images of American flags are everywhere on the bed, on the floor, on the wall.

But according to the United States government, the tenth-grade home-schooler is being held on a criminal complaint that he made a bomb threat from his home on the night of Feb. 15.

An additional, but somewhat dated video on the Patriot Act is also provided here:

Obama, Clinton, McCain – The Patriot Act

Finally an abbreviated pdf copy of the Patriot Act, as it pertains to wire taps (foreign and domestic) can be view:

The USA PATRIOT Act – A Sketch

Newswire Updates:

Claims Graham Briefed About Domestic Spying in 2001 and 2002 Were Also Bogus
from The Public Record | Jason Leopold

Former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham disclosed in 2007 that an intelligence document which claimed he was briefed about the Bush administration’s domestic surveillance program on two dates in 2001 and 2002 were untrue when compared to his own records, which showed that no such briefings ever took place.

Graham also said at the time that he was never told during briefings he attended that were chaired by Vice President Dick Cheney, then-National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden, and then-CIA Director George Tenet, that the Bush administration planned to spy on American citizens.

The statements Graham made in 2005 are virtually identical to the denials he has recently made in response to claims by the CIA that he and other Democratic and Republican lawmakers were told in classified briefings that the agency had been using so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” against high-value detainees.

Obama Administration Will Not Ask Supreme Court To Take Up National Security Letter “Gag Order” Decision
from ACLU Newsroom

The government will not ask the Supreme Court to review a decision that struck down Patriot Act provisions that allow the government to impose unconstitutional gag orders on recipients of national security letters (NSLs). NSLs issued by the FBI require recipients to turn over sensitive information about their clients and subscribers. A lower court ruled in 2007 that the gag order provisions were unconstitutional, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld that ruling in 2008. The government’s time for petitioning the Supreme Court for review has now expired.

05
May
09

Change Starts by Correcting the Past

rumsfeld

icon_digg In the recent past I’ve posted articles on the former Administration’s authorization of torture and its associated cover-up by invoking Executive Privilege (here) along with authoring numerous articles encouraging our newly elected President and his administration the need for “change” within our country (here).

The issue of torture must be resolved and the “Rule of Law” has to be enforced against those responsible, if we as a nation expect to once again have the respect of our fellow countrymen and that of the international community.  Knowing we can correct our past misdeeds provides trust in our government to plan for the heavy tax burdens of the future, such as, universal health care, a greener environment, an improved educational system at a lowered cost of tuition, a safe removal of our troops from Iraq, to name just a few pressing issues, which lay ahead of our country.

A host of articles has been written over the past two weeks regarding the release of what I refer to as the torture authorization memorandums, and after their release President Obama has somewhat backtracked on what should logically follow, which in my opinion, is a congressional inquiry as to the extent of law(s) that were possibly broken and who is primarily responsible. (for me this is a good starting point here).

In a supporting post to my feelings is an article entitled “Those Who Approved Torture “Must Be Held Accountable”, authored by Marlene H. Phillips, and published here on Huffington Post.  The posting is an interview with Retired Brigadier General John Adams who has something in common with his namesake and distant relative.

Like the second president of the United States, the retired brigadier general adheres to one basic principle in his professional actions and beliefs: defend and uphold the Constitution of the United States. He stands convinced that those that have acted in a way that would, as he put it, “triage the Constitution” must be brought to justice, including those who approved of and authorized the use of torture on U.S. held detainees.

Said Adams:

“I have never known anyone in a leadership position in the military who would condone torture. They would never do it. It would go against all the training we had, and against what we were trained to do, which is to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law.”

Regarding President Obama Adams had the following comment:

I trust President Obama’s judgment, I trust the people he has around him. I know some of them, and they are among the best people I’ve ever known in my life,” said Adams. Adams felt Obama’s actions show that he regards the issue as urgent and important, as evidenced by the speed with which he released classified information and by his meeting with generals to discuss the use of torture less than a week after assuming office. “Obama’s moving ahead and doing so with deliberate speed, which is exactly what’s warranted,” he said.

Related Newswires Stories on Torture

The Complete List of Congressional Leaders Briefed on Torture (pdf)

Complementing and driving this posting is the following YouTube video that I bumped into last night, which once again (has in the past several years) started my blood to boil.

Obama and The War Criminals

Five Things You Should Know About the Torture Memos

No. 1. I have read the 175 pages of legal memoranda (the memos) that the Department of Justice (DoJ) released last week. They consist of letters written by Bush DoJ officials to the Deputy General Counsel of the CIA concerning the techniques that may be used by American intelligence agents when interrogating high value detainees at facilities outside the U.S. The memos describe in vivid, gut-wrenching detail the procedures that the CIA apparently inquired about. The memos then proceed to authorize every procedure asked about, and to commend the CIA for taking the time to ask.

No. 2. In the process of explaining to the CIA Deputy General Counsel just what his folks could do in order to extract information from uncooperative detainees, it is immediately apparent that the writers of the memos are attempting to find snippets of language from other memoranda that they or their colleagues have prepared and from unrelated judicial opinions that justify everything that the CIA wants to do. “This is not rocket science and it is not art. Everyone knows torture when they see it.”

The bias in favor of permitting torture may easily be concluded from a footnote in one of the memos. In that footnote, the author, now-federal judge Jay Bybee, declines to characterize such notorious medieval torture techniques as the thumbscrew and the rack as torture. With that incredible mindset, he proceeds to do his Orwellian best to define away such terms as pain, suffering, and inhumane in such a way as to require that the interrogators produce near death experiences in order to have their behavior come under the proscriptions of the federal statute prohibiting torture, and the Convention (treaty) Against Torture, which was negotiated by and signed in behalf of the U.S. by President George H.W. Bush.

No. 3. The logic in the memos is simple: The government may utilize the ten procedures inquired about (all of which were publicly known except confinement on a coffin, bound and gagged, and in the presence of insects), so long as no one dies or comes close to death. This conclusion is startling in the case of walling (banging a detainees head against a solid but moveable wall) and waterboarding (near drowning) since the federal governments own physicians, cited in the memos themselves, have concluded that both techniques are always a near occasion of death. The conclusion is also startling since it fails to account for numerous federal and state prosecutions, and prosecutions in Thailand — where these torture sessions apparently occurred — that have defined torture according to its generally accepted meaning:

Any intentionally inflicted cruel or inhumane or degrading treatment, unauthorized by a court of law, perpetrated for the punishment of the victim, to extract statements from the victim, or to gratify the perpetrator.

This universally-accepted definition makes no reference and has no condition that anything goes short of a near occasion of death.

No. 4. The memos also fail to account for the Geneva Conventions, which the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled govern American treatment of all foreign detainees, lawful or unlawful. The third of those conventions PROHIBITS TOUCHING the detainee in any way, other than for the purpose of moving him from place to place, if he refuses to go voluntarily and when told to do so.

No. 5. The memos place Attorney General Holder, who argued for their release, in an untenable situation. He has stated under oath, at his confirmation hearings, that waterboarding is torture and torture is prohibited by numerous federal laws. He has also taken an oath to uphold all federal laws, not just those that are politically expedient from time to time. He is correct and he must do his moral and legal duty to reject any Nuremberg defense. This is not rocket science and it is not art. Everyone knows torture when they see it; and no amount of twisted logic can detract from its illegal horror, its moral antipathy, and its attack at core American values.
By Judge Andrew Napolitano

Visit: http://www.puppetgov.com

The following video, released from the White House on May 21, 2009, President Obama speaks to the American people regarding his intentions on Guantanamo Bay and national Security:

President Obama: Our Security, Our Values

The President speaks at length on how American values and security are intertwined, touching on issues form closing Guantanamo to State Secrets. May 21, 2009.

24
Apr
09

Like Father – Like Daughter

Cheney

icon_digg13 I to would like to see Donald Rumsfelt, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice and George Tenet face charges, but first I want to see how our current administration handles this black mark on our country’s history, without outside interference. Basically, whose going to align themselves on whose side.

Think about it for a moment – Here’s Dick Cheney with every opportunity he can get a hold of, to voice his displeasure with any and all of Obama’s policies with the media; what other former Vice Presidents has done that? Not a one!

Now his daughter is getting into the act:

Liz Cheney Defends Father ‘Dick Cheney’ Torture Legacy/Policies

So Why, easy, to confuse along with attempting to defuse the issue at hand, his own personal involvement with authorizing torture.

Unapologetic and Unrestrained: Cheney Unbound
By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG | NY Times

In the three months since leaving office, Mr. Cheney has upended the old Washington script for former presidents and vice presidents, using a series of interviews — the first just two weeks after leaving office — to kick off one last campaign, not for elective office, but on behalf of his own legacy. In the process, he has become a vocal leader of the opposition to President Obama, rallying conservatives as they search for leadership and heartening Democrats who see him as the ideal political foil.

Rice, Cheney Approved Waterboarding
Associated Press

The Director of Central Intelligence in the spring of 2003 sought a reaffirmation of the legality of the interrogation methods. Cheney, Rice, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft and White House counsel Alberto Gonzales were among those at a meeting where it was decided that the policies would continue. Rumsfeld and Powell weren’t.

Update 25 Apr 09:

Cheney Starts Pro-Torture Facebook Page
Andy Borowitz | BorowitzReport.com

In his most aggressive public relations move since leaving office, former Vice President Dick Cheney today established a Facebook page for fans of torture.

23
Apr
09

Europe Back Off and Stay Out

Nuremberg Trials

Nuremberg Trials

icon_digg12 America, as all countries today, is undergoing a vast amount of change; however there exists a hopefully small number of individuals within our country who in essence mistakenly subscribe to the notion “the Bush doctrine on terror” was correct and righteous, which includes the use of torture to obtain supposed Intel information.

I believe our President is taking the right steps, as he promised during his campaign to “right the wrongs” of our country’s past eight years of injustice regarding our treatment of combative detainees.  First by releasing the Bush Administration’s memos condoning torture (listed here and here also here), which he followed up by insuring his release would not produce a witch hunt (as some want) by traveling to CIA’s Headquarters and assuring employees individual prosecution would not be presumed and finally, most importantly turned the entire matter over to our Justice Department and directly to Eric Holder, the Attorney General.

On this past Wednesday (22 Apr 09) an article in the Washington Post, authored by Craig Whitlock, of Washington Post’s Foreign Service Department and entitled: “European Nations May Investigate Bush Officials Over Prisoner Treatment” confirms my beliefs by the following excerpt:

On Tuesday, Obama for the first time raised the possibility of creating a bipartisan commission to examine the Bush administration’s handling of terrorism suspects. He also said he would leave it up to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to determine whether to prosecute senior officials who approved waterboarding and other tactics.

This was further confirmed in a statement published by the American Civil Liberties Union, entitled: “Attorney General Holder Says He Will “Follow The Law” And Investigate Torture” where the following excerpt stated:

Attorney General Eric Holder said today that the Justice Department will “follow the law wherever it takes us” in investigating the U.S. officials behind the CIA torture policies under the Bush administration.

Europe, you have every obligation and right to legally pursue whatever action you feel is appropriate, but please let our present administration do what they can to correct these past “wrongs”; in our way of first and let America reestablish itself under the “Rule of Law”.

A.G. Holder: Investigate Torture

The people who authorized Bush’s torture program shouldn’t get off scot-free. It’s time for Attorney General Holder to appoint an independent special prosecutor.

Update 23 Apr 09:

Clinton Questions Cheney’s Credibility: “I Don’t Consider Him A Particularly Reliable Source Of Information”
Huffington Post    |  Nicholas Graham

The sensitive topic of the release of the torture memos came to the forefront when Republican Rep. Dana Rohrbacker asked Clinton if she agreed with Dick Cheney’s request that documents ostensibly showing the efficacy of the torture programs should be declassified. Clinton ultimately replied that she believes “we ought to get to the bottom of this entire matter” and that it “is in the best interest of our country” to do so, but not before she took a shot at Cheney’s credibility, saying “I don’t consider him to be a particularly reliable source of information.”

Update 24 Apr 09:

Torture and the Problem of Constitutional Evil: The Way Forward
Howard Schweber: Associate Professor of Political Science and Law at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

A year ago, in a blog post at Balkinization.com, Mark Graber discussed John Yoo’s role as an example of what he has called “the problem of Constitutional Evil.” Graber’s point is that the assumption that anything that is “evil” is therefore contrary to the dominant understanding of the Constitutional is simply wrong. This is not an argument he makes lightly; Graber is the author of Dred Scott and the Problem of Constitutional Evil, a magisterial work that makes the case in historical context; orthodox, authoritative, widely accepted understandings of the Constitution may nonetheless permit actions that deserve to be described as “evil.”

A Quarter Million Americans Demand Torture Prosecutions
from ACLU Newsroom

WASHINGTON — A broad coalition of advocacy groups today will deliver petitions containing a quarter million signatures to Attorney General Eric Holder demanding that he appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration’s use of torture on terrorism suspects. The petitions were gathered by the American Civil Liberties Union, MoveOn.org Political Action, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Firedoglake.com, Democrats.com and other advocacy groups. The petitions will be delivered during Holder’s testimony before a House Appropriations Subcommittee.

Holder: No Torture Memo “Hide And Seek”
from CBSNews.com

Attorney General Eric Holder told Congress on Thursday he won’t play “hide and seek” with secret memos about harsh interrogations of terror suspects and their effectiveness.

What if Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Had Died?
Cenk Uygur | Host of The Young Turks

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times. We practiced sleep deprivation on him for 11 straight days. I don’t know how many times we smashed his head against a wall, slapped him in the face, put him in a stress position in a freezing room and/or put him in a coffin sized box in extreme heat. But the right-wing argues that it doesn’t matter because none of this is torture. They are adamant in saying that it is not even open to interpretation.

Update 25 Apr 09:

Judge Rejects CIA Attempt To Withhold Records On Destroyed Interrogation Tapes
from ACLU Newsroom

NEW YORK – A federal judge today rejected the CIA’s attempt to withhold records relating to the agency’s destruction of 92 videotapes that depicted the harsh interrogation of CIA prisoners. The ACLU is seeking disclosure of these records as part of its pending motion to hold the CIA in contempt for destroying the tapes which violated a court order requiring it to produce or identify records responsive to the ACLU’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records relating to the treatment of prisoners held in U.S. custody overseas.

Update 27 Apr 09:

Torture Debate Follows Holder To Europe
from CBSNews.com

The Obama administration says it won’t look backward in the debate over harsh interrogations. On Attorney General Eric Holder’s first stop in Europe this week, he looked back centuries, visiting a historic torture site.




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